In a significant announcement, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared on Friday that COVID-19 no longer holds the status of a global emergency, signifying a symbolic conclusion to the devastating coronavirus pandemic. This declaration comes after the virus triggered unprecedented lockdown measures, disrupted economies on a global scale, and claimed the lives of at least 7 million individuals worldwide.

While the emergency phase has ended, the WHO emphasized that the pandemic is not yet over, pointing to recent surges in cases observed in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. The United Nations health agency highlighted the ongoing weekly death toll from the virus, which still affects thousands of people.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed hope as he officially declared COVID-19 as no longer a global health emergency. However, he stressed that this declaration does not imply that COVID-19 has ceased to pose a global health threat. Tedros emphasized that if the virus were to endanger the world again, he would not hesitate to reconvene experts to reassess the situation.

Tedros acknowledged that the pandemic has shown a downward trend for over a year, with many countries returning to a semblance of pre-pandemic life. Nonetheless, he lamented the profound damage inflicted by COVID-19 on the global community, including shattered businesses and a significant rise in poverty levels.

Highlighting the lasting impact, Tedros remarked that “COVID has changed our world and it has changed us.” He cautioned that the risk of new variants remains, underscoring the need for continued vigilance and preventive measures.